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Forklift operator walks away from crash with freight train (UPDATE)

A crew works to secure a forklift on a flatbed truck after if collided with a freight train at 10:10 a.m. Monday at 70th and State streets in Wauwatosa. The lift operator suffered injuries, but refused transport to the hospital, according to police. (Staff photos by Kevin Harnack)

A 12-car Canadian Pacific freight train shows minor damage after it collided with a forklift Monday in Wauwatosa.

By Jack Zemlicka

An industrial-forklift driver reported only minor injuries Monday after a freight train collided with his machine near a construction site at 70th and State streets in Wauwatosa.

“It was a glancing blow, but he got lucky,” Wauwatosa Police Lt. Gerald Witkowski said.

The westbound Canadian Pacific Railway train was traveling about 30 mph when it struck the forklift, knocking off two approximately 4-foot-tall wheels from the machine, Witkowski said. The 54-year-old driver, an employee of Waukesha-based Kinateder Masonry Inc. whose name was not released Monday afternoon, complained of left hand and left hip pain at the scene but did not accept medical transport, Witkowski said.

Kinateder, a subcontractor for general contractor Lunda Construction Co., Black River Falls, is working on the estimated $1.5 million 70th Street stone bridge replacement south of the railroad tracks, said Joe Marks, Wauwatosa city construction engineer. The project started in September and is expected to reach completion in June.

The worker, Witkowski said, was returning to the construction site with a load of rock and got trapped between the crossing arms as the train approached. He said the train horn alerted the driver to his situation.

Jim Kinateder, safety director for the masonry firm, only would say the company is completing a formal internal review and is unaware of any ongoing external investigations.

According to reports from the scene, Witkowski said, it is unknown whether the driver had time to move off the tracks before both the crossing arms blocked him in.

“The gate behind him closed,” he said, “but he may have been able to just drive forward.”

An investigation into the accident is ongoing, Witkowski said. He said he expected the worker would be cited for failure to obey a traffic signal, an offense that carried an $88.80 fine.

Marks said he did not expect the accident would affect the project.

“I don’t think this will cause any delays,” he said, “and we’ll still complete the project this summer.”

4 comments

  1. Why didn’t he just drive around the crossing or just break through it ???
    I know I would of !!!

  2. the guy in the white hat is a hero. He is famous for running Rochester’s infamous Safety Meeting. They were lucky to have him on the job!!!

  3. Mike Milwaukee

    The lights start flashing before the arms come down. I’m sure he knows what the flashing lights mean. He must have been pushing his luck and got stuck.

  4. GET THE DUCKTAPEEE

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